There’s an unspoken agreement between Adam Sandler and American audiences… basically he guarantees to make (at least) one terrible movie per year, and they guarantee to make it a hit. Sandler’s reaped large sums of money from the arrangement, but it’s unclear what viewers get out of the exchange. If one was to hazard a guess though it’s probably the gamble that his next comedy may be his last a truly fun and well made movie.
Well guess what… Just Go With It comes pretty damn close to being okay!
Other surprises contained within this latest gem from the Happy Madison sausage factory include: Jennifer Aniston is the best part of the movie, and not just through the process of elimination! The child actors are talented and only slightly annoying! The funny sidekick (Nick Swardson) is less funny than the lead! Rob Schneider is nowhere to be seen!
We first meet an afro’d and bulbous-nosed Danny (Adam Sandler) on his wedding night where he overhears his Jersey Shore-like bride-to-be expressing her true feelings about him to her friends. He hangs his head in shame, heads to a bar, and discovers that a wedding ring makes women feel at ease and susceptible to untrue sob stories about cheating, abusive, and/or drug-addicted wives. And then they sleep with him. Cut to the present and Danny is a successful plastic surgeon enjoying a series of one night stands and still using the wedding ring gag. The fact that he’s rich and has had his nose fixed may have something to do with his success rate as well.
The only honest and real part of his life is his assistant, Katherine (Jennifer Aniston), who’s a divorced mother of two. She’s also his best friend, moral compass, and (per rule #713 in the Romantic Comedy Rulebook) seemingly destined to be with him by the time the credits roll.
All this changes when he meets Palmer (Brooklyn Decker) at a party without the benefit of his ring shtick, and the two hit it off so well that they have sex. It’s true love, clearly, and somehow different from every other girl he’s banged within minutes of meeting her. We have to take their connection at face value though as this momentous decision arises after only a few minutes of combined screen time. They awake the next morning blissful and prepared to spend their lives together, but when she finds the wedding ring in his pocket he’s forced by stupidity to tell her he’s in the process of getting divorced.
That lie snowballs into such a ridiculous series of contrivances and ruses that even the writers of Three’s Company would shake their collective heads in disbelief (and then ask for royalties). A fake marriage grows to include fake kids, and soon Katherine and her two precocious little ones are on a Hawaiian vacation with Danny, Palmer, and Danny’s friend Eddy. Don’t ask. It’s a convoluted mess that anyone not appearing in an Adam Sandler film directed by Dennis Dugan would have avoided with a simple “no.” Instead we get to witness Danny pulling a train of lies that eventually involves two different characters forced to maintain false accents. Two!
So clearly this film should be avoided at all costs. Right? Well…
There are a handful of elements that help the movie rise far above previous Sandler/Dugan collaborations like Grown Ups, You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. Some of the smaller jokes and gags actually warrant a laugh including a humorous cameo from Rachel Dratch. Brooklyn Decker, while not a good actress, is a pretty and sexy woman with hips in a business that seems to prefer stick figure females. And an ending that seems to build towards a typically over the top finale instead settles for something far more calm and reasonable.
But the biggest surprise and easily the best part of the movie is Aniston. From her first scene through to the last she manages to infuse the screen with charm, beauty, and comedic chops she hasn’t shown in years. Her chemistry with Sandler is more than convincing, and the scenes where they banter back and forth feel natural which makes their friendship the only believable aspect of the entire film.
Is Just Go With It a theater experience worth your time and hard earned cash? Not really. But Aniston is honestly good here, and the prospect of helping her achieve a long overdue cinematic redemption is a pretty tempting. She more than holds her own against the younger (and supposedly hotter) Decker as well as against the comedic stylings of Sandler and friends. She’s fresh, funny, and proves again that she deserves far better material than she’s getting. Or maybe she just needs a far better agent.
The Upside: Aniston is a casual and playful joy; the “friends to lovers” scenario feels natural; ending is confident enough to avoid the expected big finale; Decker is a hot woman with hips!
The Downside: The supposed great love between Sandler and Decker is (shockingly) unconvincing; Sandler is no longer a viable romantic lead (if he ever was); making fun of fat ladies is lazy; a handful of lowbrow gags don’t connect; two characters trying to maintain fake accents is two too many; Sandler needs someone brave enough to tell him when he should rein things in a bit (much like Stephen King for example); continues Hollywood’s myopic view that women become sexier when they remove their glasses; why is Heidi Montag anywhere near this thing?
On the Side: A big name actress has a glorified cameo in the film as Katherine’s college friend.